Toronto Raptors

The five chapters of Vince Carter's legendary career

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The Chapters of Vince Carter's career (NBA Canada Illustration)

Before Vince Carter embarks on what could be the final season of his legendary career, now is as good of a time as ever to look back on everything he has accomplished.

From his time in college to his mentorship role on the Atlanta Hawks this season, let's take a look at the five chapters of his career...

Chapter 1: The beginning

Before he was selected with the No. 5 pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, Carter spent three seasons at the University of North Carolina.

In his 103 games as a Tar Heel, Carter averaged 12.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists per contest. He got off to a slow start in his freshman season - something Dean Smith said motivated him to "work even harder" - but he led UNC to back-to-back ACC Men's Basketball Tournament titles, as well as consecutive trips to the Final Four, as a sophomore and junior.

In his final collegiate season, Carter was named Second Team All-American and First Team All-ACC.

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Even though Antawn Jamison, his college teammate and the person he was eventually traded for on draft night, was named the National Player of the Year in 1998, Carter had established himself as one of the most electric prospects in the country.

Chapter 2: The star

It didn't take Carter long to find his footing in the NBA.

With averages of 18.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, he was named Rookie of the Year for the lockout shortened 1998-99 season. It wasn't enough for the Raptors to make the playoffs, but they had their best season in franchise history, winning just under half of their games.

The Raptors then made the playoffs for the first time in 2000 and came within a Vince Carter jump shot of making the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001.

Carter, of course, became a household name in the early part of that two-year stretch; first when he put on one of the greatest shows the NBA has ever seen in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest; second when he jumped over the 7-foot-2 Frederic Weis in the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Carter's time with the Raptors ended in 2004, when he was traded to the New Jersey Nets for Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams and two first-round picks.

He left Toronto as a five-time All-Star, a one-time member of the All-NBA Third Team, a one-time member of the All-NBA Second Team and the franchise's all-time leading scorer.

To this day, Carter is widely considered to be the greatest Raptor of all-time.

Chapter 3: The prime

Carter continued what he started in Toronto in New Jersey, when he joined forces with Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson on the Nets.

It was in New Jersey, for example, where Carter set a number of single game career-highs, from rebounds (16) and assists (14) to field goals made (20) and free throws made (23).

He also tied his career-high for points scored in a game with 51 against the Miami Heat on Dec. 23, 2005.

Carter had his best postseason run with the Nets, averaging 29.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game in the 2006 playoffs. He got into a shootout with a young Dwyane Wade in one of those games, scoring 43 points to Wade's 30 in a loss to the Heat in the second round.

Carter returned to the playoffs with the Nets the following season and knocked the Raptors out in the first round in six games.

Following four and a half seasons with the Nets, Carter then began the next chapter of his career...

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Chapter 4: The veteran

The fact that Carter is still in the NBA is a testament to how much his game has evolved in his career. Known for his athleticism in his early years, Carter has since developed into a volume shooter from the perimeter.

Whereas his 3-point attempt rate was 21.2 percent in Toronto and New Jersey, 39.4 percent of Carter's shot attempts during his time with the Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks came from the perimeter.

It's been even higher in the four seasons since, with more than half of his field goal attempts coming from the perimeter.

Carter has made those opportunities at a decent rate, too, to the point where he now ranks eighth all-time in 3-pointers made for his career.

Don't get it twisted, though - even at the age of 40, Carter is still more than capable of throwing it down.

Chapter 5: The mentor

Now 41-years-old, Carter has made his role on this Hawks team clear.

"Being on the court, being able to lead by example, is something that I enjoy doing," Carter told Kevin L. Chouinard of Hawks.com this offseason. "I want to get to a point where a guy is on the court and I'm like, 'What did you see there?' How can I accomplish this goal in that moment?"

Carter wouldn't still be playing in the NBA if he didn't think he could contribute on-court - which is where the 3-point shooting comes into play - but this is clearly the last chapter of his Hall of Fame worthy career, even in the slim chance that he decides to run it back next season.

The young Hawks would be wise to make the most of having him in the locker room while they can, because there aren't many veterans in the league today who have accomplished as much as Carter has over the last 23 years.

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